It's a very common story to hear from professionals that they "fell" into their jobs. Often through some accidental networking, they landed a job—usually early in their careers—and have fallen into each subsequent job. As a young professional, I was fitting quite nicely into that paradigm. Through some accidental networking, I got a job working in a call center for a specialty pharmacy. From there I fell into several job functions—quality assurance, implementations, business analysis, project management—some of which I enjoyed more than others. I struggled to truly settle on a career path that would be challenging, meaningful, and fulfilling. I knew, as Malcolm Gladwell wrote, that "[h]ard work is a prison sentence only if it does not have meaning."
I knew I needed and wanted to find meaning in my work, and I knew what I cared most about. I love teaching; I love learning; I love ideas and believe completely in their ability to truly change someone for the better. After some deliberate networking and—if I'm being honest—begging and convincing, I was given opportunities to work as an online instructor and take on management responsibilities for the training team at the same specialty pharmacy I had begun my career at by answering phones. And I began to realize my course as a professional was becoming clearer—no more accidents, no more "falling" into jobs.
But what next? I knew that in order to be a serious participant and contributor in the field of learning and development, I needed to think seriously about how to best advance my career. It didn't take me long to discover and determine that earning my CPLP (Certified Professional in Learning and Performance) was the right course of action. Even after years as a learning and performance professional, gaining the CPLP credential became the mark of true conviction for my chosen career. In fact, I consider my decision to become a CPLP to be the moment I truly decided to stay within the career path I feel will bring the most meaning and satisfaction.
It's a good thing I actively made the decision, because I don't think I would have had the grit to complete the CPLP credential without the conviction it was the right choice for me. It was challenging and sometimes mentally exhausting—so many flash cards! However, I loved learning the material and dove headfirst into the content. I recognized, of course, a great many concepts and principles already in use by myself and my team, and I was enthralled by the broadened vision of learning and performance that the CPLP provided. My belief in learning and ideas didn't let me down!
I love the following lines from the Twenty One Pilots song House of Gold:
Oh, and since we know that dreams are dead
And life turns plans up on their head
I will plan to be a bum
So I just might become someone
Although humorous and maybe a bit too cynical, these lines certainly reflect a recurring theme in many professionals' careers. Well-laid plans get turned on their heads or aren't made at all. We "fall" into jobs, roles, and responsibilities and far too often find ourselves unfulfilled. My decision to achieve the CPLP credential was not an accident, but based on very deliberate and thoughtful considerations. Rather than my dream being dead or my plan being turned on its head, the CPLP will help me achieve my dream of having a fulfilling and meaningful career and support my plan to thrive in that career.